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Chris Smith to honor late girlfriend by playing in Monday night game vs. Jets

After an incredibly difficult week, Browns defensive end Chris Smith is taking the field in honor of his late girlfriend Petara Cordero.

Smith announced his decision to play in the Browns' Week 2 primetime game against the New York Jets seven hours before kickoff, explaining his reasoning in a statement.

"I am going to play tonight because it is something she would want me to do," Smith said. "She would want me to keep doing what I love and stay strong. I play for her tonight. She is my why."

Cordero, the girlfriend of Smith and mother of their newborn daughter, was killed early Wednesday morning in a car accident on I-90 West in Cleveland.

The Cordero and Smith family extended thanks to "everyone for their thoughtful prayers, condolences and well wishes," according to the statement released by Smith's spokesperson. "From the bottom of their hearts they are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support."

"At this time, they ask for complete privacy as both families take the time needed to grieve the sudden and unexpected loss of their beloved Petara Cordero."